SANTA CLARA, Calif. - San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke offered encouraging words for NaVorro Bowman's progress as he returns from his knee injury that kept him out of the entire 2014 season.
"You can tell he’s working. And I think he feels good. He’s really starting to feel like it’s coming back to where he wants it. And that’s always the most important thing," Baalke said Wednesday.
Bowman sustained a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee in the conference title game against the Seahawks in January 2014. He rigorously rehabbed the injury to the point of a potential late-season return and eventually he made it back to the practice field in December.
But without Patrick Willis and with 49ers on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time in four years, Bowman elected to forgo his comeback attempt and get healthy for the 2015 season.
Baalke said Bowman did not suffer a setback to the knee during his practice stint - rather it was the best decision for Bowman's future not to push his recovery.
"There was no setback at all," Baalke said. "It was just a matter of what’s the best decision for him long-term at that time. And that was just the decision that we made."
With Willis now in retirement, there will be added focus to Bowman's return this offseason while he attempts to compensate for the loss of the five-time first-team All Pro. Second year standout Chris Borland is expected to join Bowman in the starting lineup after his strong rookie campaign last season. The 49ers will have Michael Wilhoite and Nick Moody slated for reserve roles.